Age of Empires is a series of historical real-time strategy games developed by Ensemble Studios and published by Microsoft.
Each Age of Empires game takes place in a specific historical era, be it the classical period or the early renaissance. Players must develop their civilization by collecting resources, building units and structures, exploring, and researching technology. Victory typically comes from destroying one's enemies, though there are other victory conditions as well in various iterations. Although the series, like many other Real-Time strategy games, emphasizes local and online multiplayer, the series is also known for its variety of scenarios based on historic situations.
After its founding in 1995, Ensemble Studio's first game would be the original Age of Empires, released on October 15, 1997. The game, set in the ancient era, was one of the first historic real-time strategy games, and was renowned for its advanced technology system and variety of playable civilizations. Ensemble tried to quickly make a sequel, but was unable to do so in a timely matter, leading to the release of the Rise of Rome expansion pack in October 1998. Rise of Rome added new civilizations to play as, as well as several new campaigns to play through.
Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings was released on September 30, 1999, using the same "Genie" engine as the original game. Set in medieval times, this game proved to be a huge critical success, with nearly universal acclaim. The game was largely a refined and re-imagined version of its predecessor, choosing to right to wrongs with the first game rather than radically change the formula. Its expansion pack, The Conquerors, was released August 2000, adding new campaigns, civilizations, units, and technologies.
The Age series took a turn for the unusual with 2002's Age of Mythology. This game featured the same era as the original, but incorporated a 3D engine, an emphasis on fewer, more distinct civilizations, and most notably, the inclusion of mythical elements such as heroes and fictional creatures. The game went on to be similarly well received as The Age of Kings, though its expansion pack, The Titans, sold significantly worse.
A new Age of Empires game would not come out until October 2005. Built using a new engine and set during the Age of Exploration, Age of Empires 3 combined elements of its predecessors and other strategy games to create a new formula. There were less civilizations than predecessors, but each were more unique, and RPG elements were added as well. Although not as renowned as its predecessors, Age of Empires 3 was well received, and had two expansion packs, focusing on American and Asian civilizations.
Ensemble Studios took a temporary hiatus from the Age of Empires series after 3, instead working on the Halo spinoff Halo Wars. However, the series was announced to have a fourth installment called Age of Empires 4: Modern Empires. This game is due for release in latter 2013. An HD version of The Age of Kings has also been released.
Age of Empires 4
Modern Empires focuses on the final wave of global colonization and the ultimate downfall of colonial empires, from approximately 1870 to 1970. It is to feature two broad categories of civilizations, members of which each have their own unique attributes that distinguish them. Western civilizations start at a latter age and have more potential technologies than Native civilizations, while Native civilizations can support far higher populations and have less expensive units. Even within these two categories though, there is at least as much variation as in the typical Age of Empires title.
List of Civilizations
- American (Western)
- Arabs (Native)
- Bantu (Native)
- British (Western)
- Chinese (Native)
- Dutch (Western)
- Ethiopia (Native)
- French (Western)
- German (Western)
- Indian (Native)
- Italian (Western)
- Japanese (Western)
- Korea (Native)
- Spanish (Western)
- Vietnam (Native)
- Zulu (Native)
Age of Empires is considered to be one of the preeminent real-time strategy series in gaming history. Each main game in the series, including the Mythology has seen critical acclaim and sales success. In total, over 15 million Age of games have been sold at retail, including expansion packs.